"Speediatrics" Ward Makes Halifax "Fid Friendly"

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 3, 1998) When Betty Jane France said she wanted to help make change on the Halifax Medical Center Pediatric floor, she meant everything, even the name. France, assistant secretary and international community...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 3, 1998) When Betty Jane France said she wanted to help make change on the Halifax Medical Center Pediatric floor, she meant everything, even the name.

France, assistant secretary and international community relations director for NASCAR, and Halifax Medical Center officials today announced that "Speediatrics" will replace Pediatrics at the 70-year-old hospital, a change designed to make children feel more comfortable in a sometimes intimidating medical environment.

Of course, more than a name change is necessary to make adolescents comfortable. Therefore, France will use her extensive expertise in interior design to transform every possible part of the floor into a racing-themed experience.

Seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion and 1998 Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt joined France, wife of NASCAR President Bill France, at the press conference and announced he would participate, along with several other top NASCAR drivers, in a special fund-raising event for the Speediatrics Ward on Oct. 14 in conjunction with activities around the Oct. 17 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

It is a well-known fact that a cheerful and exciting surrounding can make a difference in the attitude and recovery of sick children. The way children feel about NASCAR and its drivers is also well documented, therefore, the combination of the two was a natural. Speediatrics at Halifax Medical Center has become "where the 'World Center of Racing' supports the care of kids."

"If we can even temporarily take a child's mind off of their reason for their visit to the hospital, we have accomplished our goal," France said. "We plan to theme everything possible on the floor to racing -- wheelchairs, beds, wall hangings, wall paper, floor tile and even nurses' uniforms. We hope that when a child arrives here, they won't see a hospital, they will see pit road or Victory Lane at Daytona."

Although details of the design are still being finalized, it is likely that the nurses' station may resemble the control tower at the track, where the progress of the "teams" is monitored. And before leaving the hospital, young patients may have a souvenir photo made in a "Victory Lane" setting, reflecting their victory over the illness or injury that brought them to Speediatrics. The project is expected to be complete in January 1999.

In addition to Betty Jane France's plans to enhance the aesthetics of the floor, Halifax Medical Center announced that it would become home to the first Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on the "Funcoast."

As an initial sign of strong support, Earnhardt announced that he, along with 10-12 other top NASCAR drivers, will participate in a fund-raising event on Oct. 14 at the speedway to raise money for the project.

An evening event at the Speedway's Daytona Club with a goal of rasing $250,000 is being organized.

"I salute you, Betty Jane, for your plans to add some fun to this environment," Earnhardt said. "I also applaud Halifax for adding the intensive care unit, allowing children of this area top-quality care. Throughout my career I've been in enough hospitals to know that they aren't a lot of fun. However, if the kids visiting Speediatrics can have even a slight diversion from their troubles, this project will be well worth the effort."

Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and Daytona Beach resident Mark Martin are among the NASCAR greats who have already pledged their support by appearing at the Oct. 14 fund raiser called "Paint a Healthy Picture for Children."

That night, just one day before the Speedway opens for practice and qualifying for the much-anticipated inaugural night-time running of the Pepsi 400, participating NASCAR drivers will be paired with a child to create a one-of-a-kind painting. The driver and child will work together to create a racing-themed image that will be signed by both artists and then auctioned off to the highest bidder.

In addition to the soon-to-be-famous art, other items will be auctioned that evening with all proceeds going to develop Speediatrics. Tickets to the event, which is being held in the luxurious Daytona Club, are available by calling (904) 947-6411. Tables of 10 are being sold in advance for $1,000 and individual seats are being sold in advance for $125.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Mark Martin